CALL US TOLL-FREE 1-800-934-9194
better air begins with knowledge
No items added.
0 items in your cart    View your cart »
Cart Subtotal: $0.00
Knowledge Center
Article Image: "Types of Room Air Conditioners"

Types of Room Air Conditioners

Whynter Sno 13,000-BTU Portable Air Conditioner

In many parts of the country, the hot summer months can be almost unbearable without a proper cooling system in place. These days, many homes and offices are equipped with central air conditioners to provide seasonal cooling. However, these appliances can notoriously work overtime, eating up your energy budget, often just to cool only the few rooms in which you spend the majority of your time. If this scenario applies to you–or if you don't currently have a central AC and you're looking for a less expensive alternative–look no further than a room air conditioner.


There are four major types of room air conditioners to choose from. These include:
  • Portable air conditioners
  • Window air conditioners
  • Through-the-wall air conditioners
  • Ductless mini-split air conditioners

Portable ACs, window ACs, and thru-wall ACs are self-contained air conditioning systems that provide spot cooling in single rooms and moderately sized spaces. Each system can provide efficient cooling in your environment in two ways:

  • Primary Sources of Cooling – Portable, window, and thru-wall ACs are often used as the primary sources of cooling in rooms that are not accessible by a central air conditioner. All you need is a window or a custom-designed wall space that allows you to exhaust hot air outside.
  • Supplementary Sources of Cooling – All three air conditioner types can also be used as supplementary cooling systems in rooms that are already covered by a central air conditioner. To gain the most energy efficiency, you'll need to offset your usage of a central AC by turning up your thermostat (or turning it off) and letting the room air conditioner do most of the cooling work.

Portable Air Conditioners

Portable air conditioners are freestanding floor systems that cool a space by pulling in fresh air, removing heat and dehumidifying it, and returning it into your space while exhausting hot air. To cool properly, portable AC systems must be configured to release hot air outside through a window–such as a vertical sash or sliding-style window–a specially created wall hole, or upward through a drop ceiling plenum. Almost all portable air conditioners come with a window kit and exhaust accessories that allow you to easily set up the exhaust configuration.

Whynter 12,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner ARC-12S

Window Air Conditioners

In contrast, window AC units are designed to be installed inside a vertical sash window or, in some cases, through a measured and prepared wall hole. These appliances sit on top of the window frame in a partially opened window–or on the wall frame–with the hot air exhaust system facing outside and the cool air return system facing inside.

Sunpentown WA-1011S Window Air Conditioner

Through-the-Wall Air Conditioners

Very similar to window air conditioners, thru-the-wall air conditioners are window-style ACs designed instead to install through a wall inside a chassis sleeve. In many cases, through-wall units can be installed flush with a wall for a streamlined appearance. Through-wall ACs differ from window ACs mainly in their housing design, cooling capacity, and weight. Unlike window units, thru-wall units typically do not have venting mechanisms on each side of the housing. This is because the venting grilles would be blocked in a through-wall application, which would lower the unit's cooling efficiency. Through-wall ACs are typically available in higher cooling capacities than window AC models and weigh slightly more.

Soleus SG-TTW-12ESEZ-26 Through-the-Wall Air Conditioner

Ductless Mini-Split System Air Conditioners

Popular for their high-efficiency cooling, ductless air conditioners provide quiet, unobtrusive cooling for multiple "zones" within a home, office, or commercial space. Unlike portable AC units and window-style ACs, mini-split air conditioners are not self-contained appliances. They also do not require ducting like central air conditioners. These systems have two basic parts: a large condenser unit that installs outdoors and one or more compact wall-mountable blower units that are placed strategically inside the space(s), or zones, you want to cool.

When installed, insulated conduit housing the refrigeration lines runs from the outside condenser unit to the blower system(s) indoors. Each wall-mounted blower system can be controlled independently to provide comfortable room cooling right where you need it. Ductless mini-split system air conditioners are known for their high cooling efficiency, quiet operation, and slim profiles in your space.

Friedrich M36CG Mini-Split Air Conditioner

For additional information, read our companion article on choosing an air conditioner for your space.

Still Have Questions?

For more information on Sylvane's room air conditioner solutions–and for a free consultation on treatment options for your indoor environment–please call our product experts at 1-800-934-9194. In addition, visit our Knowledge Center for more informative articles on room air conditioners. We want to help make your indoor air healthy and comfortable.

Email Exclusives

Enter your email address to sign up for our newsletter, which includes special offers only for our newsletter subscribers! We will not sell your email address, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Begin Secure Checkout
Don't have an account?
Enter your email address to checkout as a guest.

Returning Customer? Sign In:
Welcome back!
Login for faster checkout.
If you have forgotten your password, click here.

Newsletter Subscriptions

Thanks for subscribing to our newsletter! You should begin receiving regular emails from us shortly!